Wednesday, 20 February 2013

On the Mekong River.


I’ve been labeling some more pictures today, so here are two more from the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh.


Cao Dai religion:  the all-seeing (left) eye of God.

Cao Dai religion: Three "saints"  the one in the middle  (believe it or not) is Victor Hugo.

Odd slogan on a Cambodian tour bus.

















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On my last full day in Vietnam I was driven from Ho Chi Minh City down to the Mekong River.

The Mekong rises in Tibet and wanders through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.  It is 2700 miles long. In Vietnam it branches into a delta, with five main branches.  The land is very flat and fertile.  Thus, the Delta area is a “rice basket” of Vietnam (together with the flat plain in the north where the Red River meanders to the sea).  As well as rice, there are crops of coconuts and many fine vegetables and fruits.

The traffic was unbelievable heavy  -  yes “everyone” was going home for the Tet holiday.

Because of that congestion my visit was a wee bit shortened.

I had thought that I’d be with other tourists in a boat the size of the junk in Halong Bay, but no, it was just my garrulous tour guide, the boatman and me.

We crossed the Mekong with Cambodia to the west and the South China Sea to the East.

Then we had two or three hours in a river bank village – “famous” for making coconut candy. The village visit included a one mile ride in a horse and cart (I was in the cart!), a nice time of refreshments drinking green tea and eating local fruits, and a trip down a bayou before re-crossing the river.

It was sad to hear that the river has been over-fished.  Thus there are fish farms on the river itself, and many locals eke out a living in the tourist trade.  I am sure that my boatman would rather have been fishing.

On the journey home we stopped at a “tourist restaurant” (which had very good food).  Once again I was seated alone and given a “tourist menu” with nine selections.  As I was making my choice it became clear that this was a nine course lunch.  I stopped after course number six!

I enjoyed crepes (again) with pork and shrimp, pork on a skewer, and elephant ear fish.  This fish was delicious.  The idea was to pull the flesh off the bones of the (whole) fish, and then make a “wrap” with lettuce and tomato in rice paper.  Yummy!

Whatever good or ill the French colonisation brought about they left at least one good legacy -  in southern Vietnam especially they bake superb baguettes, and make terrific crepes.

Vietnamese coffee is very strong – like expresso.  If you order it with milk you’ll get sweetened condensed milk from a tin.  I learned to order it black!



Smart Mekong River tour boat

I was on this little boat. (Probably originally a fishing boat)

Looking west on the Mekong River (in the direction of Cambodia)

Wrapping Coconut Candy. The inner wrapper is edible rice paper.

Making Coconut candy.

Flavouring for Candy (I forget the name of the fruit).

Trying on a shirt. It was too small (or I was too big!)

Horse and Cart ride (1)  Note the bikes - the old and the new.

Horse and Cart ride (2)  (Not sure why we did this)

Plants on sale for Tet

Fancy house in Mekong River Village (probably owned by the Communist Party village "boss"

Nice array of fruits to sample.  The "spotted" Dragon Fruit is all but flavorless. The spiky red coloured fruit is delicious. You peel off the spiky skin and then eat the sweet fruit, not forgetting to spit out the pit. To the right in front of the bottle is pineapple, and to its left is shredded coconut. The glass with a spoon in it is green tea which I grew to like.

On the left my tour guide. The pink bag contains a shirt which I bought -  it's the right size and is my one "souvenir" 

Punting down the Bayou. The women do this hard work  (1)

Punting down the Bayou. The women do this hard work  (2)

Punting down the Bayou. The women do this hard work  (3)

Mekong River foliage on river banks

Petrol station on the river

Elephant Ear Fish (with fixings and sauces)


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